Morning Mix: With One Week Until Tax Day, Buffett Rules
Taxes are due exactly one week from today, and for many of us, that means we are frantically making our returns and checking them twice.
For Democrats, though, this is the time to hone their tax push.
From President Barack Obama down to the newest Democrat in the House, everyone will be talking about the Buffett Rule — a push to make the tax code more fair and ensure that those who make over a million dollars a year aren’t paying a smaller percentage in taxes than those who earn far less.
CNN reports, “Most millionaires today already pay a higher percentage of their income in federal taxes than the vast majority of all Americans. But roughly 25% of them end up with a lower effective tax rate than 10% of middle-income households, according to the Congressional Research Service. And a very small number — an estimated 1,470 households in 2009, according to the IRS — end up owing no federal income tax at all. Obama’s Buffett Rule is targeted specifically at those high-income households that are in a position to structure their income and engage in legal tax strategies to minimize their tax bite.”
President Obama will be talking up the Buffett Rule as he makes fundraising and campaign appearances throughout the week. “On a campaign fund-raising trip today to Florida, President Obama will make the tax fairness argument as part of his latest pitch for the ‘Buffett Rule’… [The issue] lends itself to Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign. If Republicans block passage of the Buffett Rule, he can try to portray them as defenders of an unfair tax policy benefiting the nation’s rich.”
And the other Democrats see it as a strong campaign issue, too, as they join the cause. “‘It’s an opportunity for senators from both political parties to stand up for tax fairness,’ said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. ‘Are we going to allow the GOP and Mitt Romney to take us back to the days where the decks were stacked against the middle class?’ said Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who’s angling for the open Senate seat in Wisconsin and has sponsored the Buffett Rule in the House. ‘As we recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it’s time we understand that it’s going to take shared sacrifice and shared responsibility.’”
The theme will be “tax fairness” more so than using the rule as a way to decrease the deficit. But some wonder if that will actually work as a campaign message. It seems the coveted Independent voters aren’t that concerned with “fair.” “While the Buffett Rule is widely popular – more than 6 in 10 Americans support the measure, according to a March Reuters/Ipsos poll – the larger economic argument centered around ‘fairness’ may be problematic for the independent voters who are often crucial in presidential elections.”
If “fair” does end up being a messaging fail, expect the “tax the rich” rhetoric to start toning down shortly after the vote is cast.
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